In today’s readings, Paul finds himself facing a deep disagreement that is turning violent over the truth of the resurrection, and Jesus prays to God for the people of the world, “that they may all be one.” Between these two readings, it is clear that the peoples near Jesus are divided, fractured within their belief, value, and judgment systems.
Jesus’s prayer for Oneness on Earth is beyond something we even dream of today, facing a global pandemic and witnessing some of our deep-seated divisions manifest even when it seems like we should all unite for the common good. Like those of Jesus’ time, our communities too are comprised of well-meaning people who still disagree, sometimes in ways that cause deep harm and even death. We are even divided in our own Church, where we presumably hold certain truths and values in common.
It seems to be an inescapable reality that humans resist the kind of Oneness that God wants for us. Speaking to God, Jesus says “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
And so we ask ourselves, what would it be like for us, as a global community, to be united as one in love? At this time, that seems so painfully far away, we might wonder if we will ever see that day. And how do we keep courage like Paul, holding to the promise of God and the testament of Jesus’s Resurrection, when there is a temptation to fall in with the status quo, to reach for our comforts and simply count the days until we can go back to the way things were before?
The Risen Jesus appeared to Paul and called him out of his old life of persecuting followers of Christ to a new life of witnessing the hope of the Resurrection. Could it be that in this time God is calling us to change our lives, to radically transform how we live and the choices we make for the sake of building the Kingdom here on Earth, where we are united in Love and Oneness? That is a big question. Perhaps in this time of pause and reflection, where a lot of the unnecessary has been stripped away, we can attempt to answer it.
Brinkley Johnson, Class of 2018